Much of what we’ve seen over the years in Democratic campaigns was derived from the teachings of Saul Alinsky. The community organizer made a career out of helping “the little guys” fight corporate and political corruption through lies, propaganda, and psychological tactics that gave us Barack Obama and that are being used by Hillary Clinton today.
There’s a better example than Clinton and arguably even better than Obama of a candidate who has mastered much of what Alinsky taught. The irony is that Donald Trump, the master Alinskyite, is using the tactics from the other side. He represents the political and corporate corruption that Alinsky’s far-left perspectives were intended to fight. Unfortunately, rather than using those tactics against the left, Trump is using them on a people who have not been indoctrinated into the Alinsky frame of thought: Republicans.
2016 posed a problem for liberals. They didn’t have a viable candidate who could follow the unpopular doctrines of an Obama administration and have any hope of winning. Rather than fighting the Republicans head-on, they were granted a gift in Trump. Some savvy pundits might tell you that they manufactured Trump. Then, there are the conspiracy theorists who see what is happening and believe that Trump was a direct creation from the Clintons to ensure their future reign in the White House.
We’re not here to spread theories. The facts are juicy enough. As Soshable pointed out, Trump is the master of Alinsky’s Rule #5:
“Ridicule is man’s most potent weapon.” There is no defense. It’s irrational. It’s infuriating. It also works as a key pressure point to force the enemy into concessions.
Trump has been able to ride ridicule to the point that several candidates crumbled under his attacks. He didn’t attack Jeb Bush’s policies. He attacked his brother’s involvement in 9/11 and ridiculed Bush as “low energy.” He didn’t attack Rand Paul’s perspectives. He attacked his appearance. He doesn’t attack Ted Cruz for what he’ll do as President. He calls him a liar. Trump has no substantive attacks on any of the candidates, nor does he have substantive plans to fix the country. He bashes people on a personal level and then makes untenable campaign promises without a lick of thought.
These tactics would be easily recognized by the Democrats and Independents who have seen them for years, but to Republicans, this is a new type of candidate. Just as Democrats and Independents bought into Obama’s ambiguous message of “hope and change,” so too are Republicans buying into the ambiguous message of “make America great again.”
They aren’t asking how. Anyone who asks how Trump is going to do it receives an even more ambiguous response. His supporters don’t care.
The Alinsky tactics are not intended to convince people based upon facts or realities. It’s designed to play to the emotions of angry people who want things to change even if they aren’t shown a path to change them. It’s change for the sake of change and Trump has mastered that sales pitch to the point that his most adoring fans have complete faith based upon intangibles.
Here are some examples of those false intangibles.
- “Trump is self-funded and not beholden to any special interests.” This is the ultimate populist sales pitch. It assumes the ignorance of the voters who believe that money is the primary driving force for Presidents. This is ridiculous. Presidents don’t get bribed. They aren’t driven in their policies by campaign contributions. Does anyone really believe that the anti-gun lobby is making Obama go after the 2nd Amendment? Did he get bribed by the LGBT community to support gay marriage? Legislators can be bought, particularly at the state level. Presidents work through a different type of special interest brokering that has nothing to do with money. They operate through deals. It takes cronyism to make most of the deals that happen in DC and Trump is the ultimate cronyism-based deal maker that would even set foot in the White House.
- “He’s made a ton of money because he’s such a great businessman.” Donald Trump is a mediocre businessman. He’s great at real estate and entertainment, but literally every single other business venture he’s ever attempted has failed miserably. Moreover, it’s easy to look like a great businessman when you’re born into a $400 million empire. As has been pointed out many times, his business decisions have cost him more money than they’ve made him. Had he taken his money and invested them into basic index stocks instead of making so many deals, his net worth would by many times higher than it is today.
- “He speaks his mind.” Wrong. He says what comes to his mind, but he definitely doesn’t speak his true feelings. He’s built a narrative around his campaign and he says the things that match those narratives. In fact, there are multiple instances when his real feelings about subjects started to come out and he quickly retreated to his talking points.
It’s ironic that after the Democrats were left high-and-dry by an Alinskyite that couldn’t effectively help the country, a worse Alinskyite is coming through the Republican ranks to offer hope and change to the angry masses. We thought things were bad with Obama. They’ll be much worse with Trump if America doesn’t wake up soon.